Well, I certainly underestimated the Sharks, and at the same time probably overestimated the Reds …
Saturday’s Super Rugby results:
Reds 17 – 30 Sharks
Crusaders 28 – 13 Bulls
Which gives rise to the following semi-finals:
Chiefs v Crusaders
Friday, July 27, Kick-off: 09:35
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Stormers v Sharks
Saturday, July 28, Kick-off: 17:05
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
And I think these are a fair reflection of the tournament thus far. The Reds snuck a place in the last 6 at the last minute, and only got to host a quarter final because of the pesky conference system. Based on performances this year, no Aussie side deserves to be in the semis …
Personally, I would prefer to see the SA sides playing the Kiwis as that is what I think Super Rugby is about – rather than local derbies which we get in the Currie Cup. It would also mean a long trek for the Crusaders, and just a pop over the Tasman for the Sharks. But of course I will be in the minority as this way we are guaranteed of having a team in the final. Also the Crusaders at Newlands comes with a whole heap of ugly political ramifications via the polarizing “Cape Crusaders” … So at least we avoid that!
As said by every man and his dog in the buildup, beating the Crusaders at Christchurch is nigh on impossible, but it was a little concerning to see how easily they smashed the Bulls. Morne Steyn had a dreadful game and his continued bad form has to be causing a fair amount of angst for Heyneke Meyer. Francois Hougaard was again a little tardy at the base, Pierre Spies was largely absent for the umpteenth time this year, Werner Kruger got eaten by Wyatt Crockett, Wynand Olivier was made to look like an under 12 C player by Robbie Fruean and Jacques Potgieter went backwards in the tackle a lot faster than he went forwards. To a man, all Springboks!
That said, this Crusaders side would probably beat most international sides at their home ground. It’s become almost clichéd, but with Richie McCaw and Dan Carter in that kind of form, it’s difficult to see any side beating them this year.
In Brisbane, the Sharks were the complete antithesis. Starting strongly, they looked the better side from minute one. I thought they would miss Frans Steyn, but Paul Jordaan more than made up for the loss – he was quite sublime, especially in the try that he made, and eventually scored. Outside him JP Pietersen was at his irrepressible best – magnificent feet, and a deceptive turn of pace saw him through a number of gaps. In the engine room all of Bismarck du Plessis, Ryan Kankowsi and Marcell Coetzee stood out in a performance the pack can be very proud of. I though Coetzee was especially useful at the breakdown, making steals normally reserved for Sir Richie!
But what stood out most for me was the iron clad defence seen from the Sharks. In the Reds face all day, the second last man would always receive man and ball at the same time, and more often than not, be smashed back in the tackle. You could almost see the passion, pride and guts oozing from the Sharks pores. Away from home, and having endured a nightmare travel schedule that saw them miss connecting flights in Sydney, this was a magnificent win. They really are a transformed side from the one that looked positively sieve like earlier in the tournament …
Don’t expect to see too many tries at Newlands though!!
And while referee Jonathan Kaplan might have been a little lenient on the Sharks come the offside line, it was bloody dreadful to see the Suncorp rabble boo him off the field in his 99th Super Rugby game. If they think he was the cause of their demise they are more delusional than even I imagined!
Stormers v Chiefs 11/4
Stormers v Crusaders 9/5
Chiefs v Sharks 5/1
Crusaders v Sharks 9/4
CLICK HERE to have a dabble …
Currie Cup 1st division results:
EP 56 – 5 Border
EP – Tries: Luke Watson (2), Wayne Stevens, Wayne van Heerden (2), SP Marais, Penalty Try; Conversions: Wesley Dunlop (7), George Whitehead.
Border – Try: Gareth Krause.
Boland 20 – 23 Griffons
Boland – Tries: Ashton Constant, Elgar Watts, Brandon April; Conversion: Watts; Penalties: Watts (2).
Griffons – Tries: Charles Marias, Willie Britz; Conversions: Reinardt Erwee (2); Penalties: Erwee (2).
Leopards 68-35 SWD Eagles
Leopards – Tries: Allister Kettledas (5), GJ Engelbrecht, Philip de Wet, Johan Laker; Conversions: Andre Pretorius (7), AE Engelbrecht; Penalties: Andre Pretorius (4).
SWD – Try: Alshaun Bock, Dumisane Meslane, Baldwin McBean, Elric van Vuuren, Wayne Kahn; Conversions: Theuns Kotze (5).
Pumas 36-35 Falcons
Pumas - Try: Renaldo Bothma, Deon Scholtz, Carl Bezuidenhout, RW Kember. Conversions: Bezuidenhout, JC Roos. Penalties: Bezuidenhout (4).
Falcons - Tries: Uzair Cassiem, John-Wessel Bell (2), Karlo Aspeling (2). Conversion: Karlo Aspeling, Arno Poley. Penalty: Aspeling. Drop-goal: Aspeling.
Club rugby results:
KZN: Durban Collegians 58-11 PMB Collegians, Varsity Coll 25-17 UKZN PMB, Crusaders 33-0 Harlequins, Rhinos 3-54 College Rovers
BLUE BULLS: Tuks 88-0 Silver Valke, Police 64-8 TUT, Centurion 70-10 Harlequins, Naka Bulls 76-7 Oostelike Eagles
WP: Villager 0-25 Durbanville-Bellville, False Bay 12-20 Tygerberg
Border: Buffalo 19-27 Old Selbornians, Fort Hare 30-20 East London Police
SWD: Progress 13-15 Crusaders, All Blacks 16-19 Bridgton, Blanco 45-6 Silver Stars, Evergreens 24-13 Barbarians, Uniondale 28-0 George, Groot-Brak 28-0 Bonnievale United
PREDATOR : Brakpan 66-30 Boksburg, Pirates 40-3 Benoni, Raiders 7-43 NWU Pukke, Wits 27-25 Springs, Union 26-25 Randfontein, Rustenburg Impala 53-10 Roodepoort, Alberton 0-83 UJ
All above results courtesy of @saclubrugby on Twitter – a good value follow!
Select school results:
Grey College 29-16 Pretoria Boys
Paarl Boys 22-7 Oakdale
Paarl Gym 17-17 Outeniqua
Maritzburg College 7-33 Affies
Grey High 14-18 Daniel Pienaar
Kingswood 22-14 Winterberg
St. Andrews 38-20 Marlow
Florida 18-23 Monument
Parktown 9-30 Jeppe
Paul Roos 12-3 SACS
Rondebosch 12- 5 Drostdy
Tygerberg 12-16 Bishops
Wynberg 12-30 Boland Landbou
All above results courtesy of www.saschoolsports.co.za